PETALING JAYA: The emergence of two influential new directors in Iris Corp Bhd is set to give the ailing information technology solutions provider a new lease of life.
Iris, in filings with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, announced that it had appointed investor Datuk Paul Poh and businessman Datuk Rozabil Abdul Rahman effective last Friday.
The duo have emerged as substantial shareholders of the company following the completion of a private share placement.
Last month, Iris said it had placed out 224,718,405 new shares at 14 sen each to raise proceeds of RM31.46mil.
While it did not disclose the placee, the company noted that the issue price represented a discount of 5.2% to the five-day, volume-weighted average price of Iris shares up to and including June 21, 2017 of RM0.1477.
Based on the announcement of the directorships, Poh and Rozabil indirectly own 224,718,405 shares in the company, which is the entire total number of shares issued during the private placement.
According to a source close to the deal, Poh and Rozabil took up the entire placement shares via investment vehicle Caprice Development Sdn Bhd,
Poh owns 65% of the investment vehicle, while Rozabil owns the remaining stake.
Following the placement exercise, Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd remained Iris’ biggest shareholder, although its stake was diluted to 19.4%.
Poh, 44, had held various positions in the Hong Leong Group before leaving in January 2014 to focus on Caprice Capital.
He began his stint with Hong Leong in the mid-1990s with Hume Industries Bhd and later joined the stockbroking division (HLG Secu-rities), rising to become head of Hong Leong Securities.
His last position at Hong Leong was as managing director (MD) of Hong Leong Management Co Sdn Bhd, which oversees all the group’s investments.
He was appointed as the MD of Guocoland Malaysia Bhd on June 1, 2008 and relinquished the office on June 16, 2010.
He is currently a director of GLM REIT Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of Tower Real Estate Investment Trust.
Rozabil, 45, is the group MD of integrated engineering solutions provider Destini Bhd .
The company was previously known as Satang Holdings Bhd – a Practice Note 17 (PN17) stock in May 2008.
In 2011, Rozabil came on board to turn around the company and it came out of the PN17 category two years later.
Ministy of Finance Inc’s unit Aroma Teraju Sdn Bhd also entered Destini in September 2015 as its second-largest shareholder after Rozabil, raising the company’s profile.
Aroma Teraju remains the second-largest shareholder of Destini.
Rozabil has diversified interests, ranging from construction and property development to trading, and serves as director in several other private companies.
He began his career as the MD and owner of Benar Prima Holdings Sdn Bhd, a holding company that has businesses in engineering, property development and investments.
There was speculation as to why Poh and Rozabil would want to buy into Iris Corp, which reported a full-year loss of RM319mil for the financial year ended March 31, 2017 from a net profit of RM6.1mil a year earlier.
According to the source, the investors see potential in the core business of the group, which is the identification chips division.
“This division is still making money, and it is the other non-core divisions that are losing money.
“Moving forward, it is likely that they would want to focus purely on this core division,” he said.
Last month, Iris Corp wrote down RM161mil for its non-core businesses and reported a loss of RM292mil for its fourth quarter ended March 31, 2017.
In 2016, Iris took a hit when its contract to supply electronic passport chips to the Government was not renewed. The contract was later awarded to its direct competitor Datasonic Group Bhd .